The music industry is like high school in a way: You become cooler and life becomes more advantageous after you make some well-connected, older pals.
In 2007, Tokyo instrumental math-rock and postrock quartet Lite teamed with experimental bass and sanshin band Funanori for a split CD. Funanori features The Go! Team’s Kaori Tsuchida and seminal American bassist Mike Watt, a member of lauded 1980s punk act Minutemen, Porno for Pyros and currently Iggy and The Stooges.
In early 2008, Lite spent two weeks touring Japan alongside Watt’s side project Brother’s Sister’s Daughter. Lite and Watt became friends, which led to Lite being invited to open at Mike Watt and The Missingmen shows in the United States in May last year. Wanting to make the most of the opportunity, while there Lite recorded their “Turns Red” EP with producer J. Robbins from posthardcore act Jawbox. They also taped one of the tour’s performances for the digital concert album “Live in New York.”
This past spring, Lite were offered more U.S. gigs with Mike Watt and The Missingmen. During their sophomore visit, Lite booked studio time in Chicago with much-respected multi-instrumentalist and producer John McEntire of Tortoise and The Sea and Cake. They also made another online-only release, “Live in Los Angeles.”
In July, the McEntire-produced “Illuminate” EP was issued. Like “Turns Red,” the strong offering includes synthesizer on some tracks, adding an increased experimental edge to Lite’s sound. After summer concerts in Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia, and appearances at Fuji Rock and Tokyo’s Neutral Nation fest, the group will soon embark on a 22-date Japan jaunt to promote “Illuminate.” Seemingly now best buddies, it’s unsurprising that Mike Watt and The Missingmen will accompany them. Lou Barlow (from Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh) and acclaimed U.S. avant indie-rock group Tera Melos, will also appear on select bills. Time will tell if any international opportunities arise for Lite from strengthening ties with both.
Lite’s Illuminate Release Tour starts Oct. 17 at SuperDeluxe, Tokyo (6 p.m.; ¥2,800 in advance;  5412-0515) and ends on Nov. 7 at Sound Crue, Sapporo (4 p.m.; ¥3,000 in advance;  221-8313). For more information, visit lite-web.com.